Nechemia One: Prayer

Today starts the book of Nehemia, one that I’m pretty certain I’ve never really done anything with before, so I’m excited to see what this guy is all about. First, we meet him. “The words of Nehemia the son of Hacaliah. And it came to pass in the month of Kislev [in] the twentieth year that I was in Shushan the capital (Nehemia 1:1).” This opening verse gives us the context for his lineage, time period, and location. Check, check, check. He meets a man from Judea, and he asks about the state of Jerusalem, and is informed that the walls were breached and the gates burned. This drives Nehemia into a state of mourning. He prays to God in a way that strikes me as beautiful in that it’s spontaneous, authentic, and deeply personal. So often people tell me how hard they find it to connect with traditional prayers and liturgy, and while I don’t always feel the same way, I understand where they’re coming from. But Nehemia’s prayer is straight from the heart. “I beseech You, O Lord, may Your ear now be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to the praer of Your servants, who wish to fear Your name, and cause Your servant to succeed today, adn grant him mercy before this man (Nehemia 1:11).”

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